playing for keeps

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Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Switching gears

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 30, 2018

Here’s the final illustration for the cover to “The Death of David Pickett” by Jon Hunt. Check out his great website. The writing, rewriting, editing, and copy editing of TDDP are finished, but it’ll take me three more months to put together the digital “book” and the logistics for its release.

I’m moving on to my next writing project, the science fiction novelette I was working on five months ago when I switched to TDDP. At the time, when I decided to convert the original bones of TDDP into the prequel to my novel, 1% Free, I’d judged that the novelette would take a lot of work to complete. Too much work and time to use it in any promotional/publicity campaign for my novel. With TDDP in place for that purpose, now I’m writing on the novelette. Currently, it’s at 18,000 words, just on the edge of being a novella. I’ve mapped out three new sections that should expand the story, taking me well into novella territory (17,500-40,000 words) and perhaps even into novel length if the writing goes well. Just yesterday, I finished a particularly tricky bit of story universe exposition, so I’m feeling good about my progress and prospects. This will be a writing weekend.

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Close to final, and stunning

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 21, 2018

Three stunning images for my “The Death of David Pickett” cover art by Jon Hunt. One is final art without tone, the other two show options for slightly different type placement.

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Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 14, 2018

I announced the completion of my story “The Death of David Pickett” as we finished the latest Finishing School session yesterday. Today I put together a minor detail that I intend to include in the digital book. Here’s the map of the story’s action in 2023.

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Jon Hunt inks

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 13, 2018

Jon Hunt is doing the cover illustration for my digital book “The Death of David Pickett.” Here are two inkings. I’m in awe.

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Lure of writing the Great American Novel

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 8, 2018

I read through my story “The Death of David Pickett” one last time yesterday before I sent the manuscript off to my copy editor. Once the text is corrected, this is the next step before I format it into a digital “book” (ebook and pdf). TDDP will be a bit of swag, a promotional item given away for free, a well written prequel to my novel 1% Free full of links encouraging readers of the story to buy the book.

This project came out of efforts to develop one of my completed longish short stories into something approaching another novel in length. My novel production is not prodigious, which is why I tend toward the kitchen sink approach in writing 400+ page books crammed with everything under the sun. I’m never sure when, or if, I will manage to write another. Once the copyediting of TDDP is done, I’ll return to this approach with the three potential science fiction candidates in my archive.

I also have a longstanding idea for a novel-length story that isn’t science fiction. Set in 1967-68, it focuses on a Spanish graduate student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who is suspended for a prank, travels around the world participating in some of the heady events of “the year that shook the world,” and returns to UNAM in time to witness the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City on October 2, 1968. This is also about my fascination with the time in my life that formed my politics, and I have about 30 pages, 8,000 words, and a bare outline to work with from when I first considered the idea. But unlike my novelettes/novellas I hope to expand into novels, this is a novel that still needs to be written. It will require some discipline and maybe a writing group or two to get it started. I’ve already begun collecting material and sources for this potential book.

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Brilliant cover art almost done

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 6, 2018

Jon Hunt’s latest version of the cover for my free digital book “The Death of David Pickett.” He’ll do the drone logos and damage, plus the title and byline. I’m looking forward to the black-and-white hopefully noirish contrasts. This is gorgeous. And almost done.

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Next step to a great story cover graphic

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 26, 2018

Here’s the next provocative sketch toward designing the perfect cover for the digital book of my story “The Death of David Pickett” by illustrator Jon Hunt. The character’s hair needs to be a little more curly and his face a little more distressed at the prospect of being shot. The drone’s proposed swiveling gun turrets can replace the fang-like ones right next to them and then blended in with the UAV’s overall design. But otherwise, excellent. Plenty of space for some “live” action. One thing I worry about is the empty space below my author byline. Will it count as negative space that might unnecessarily draw away the viewer’s eye? But I think I can rely on Jon’s artistic skills to solve that problem. There are even inner and outer guidelines representing alternately 5.5×8.5″ and 6×9″ cover sizes for different cover bleeds. This is really shaping up!

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Designing a killer drone

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 24, 2018

Jon Hunt then sent me 6 different sketches, 6 potential versions of a homicidal drone for use in my cover illustration.

I liked the overall design of #2 with perhaps the potential gun turret flexibility of #6. #2 has the surface area for a couple of partial logos, plus the surface area to show damage from being attacked.

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Working with my illustrator: the initial rough sketches

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 22, 2018

The writing, editing, and rewriting of my story “The Death of David Pickett” is finished. Now I’m working with my illustrator Jon Hunt. I sent him an email describing the project and its various elements (background, drone, main character, his t-shirt, action sequence). He sent me back the following two rough sketches. I chose #2, then emailed him back the marked-up sketch plus my revisions: larger drone, larger character, and my author byline under the title. Can’t wait to see the finished graphic.

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Constructing the 1% Free Book Cover

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 30, 2016

I found Jon Hunt through the “Hire An Illustrator” website. I was impressed by his online portfolio. (Here are Jon’s Facebook page and blog.) We exchanged emails, discussed the scope of the work, negotiated a payment, and finalized an agreement. I gave Jon the basic action tableau–male and female protagonists vs threatening alien–and he did some preliminary sketches:


In discussing these first sketches via email, Jon asked for more context to help him do his job. I sent him two longish excerpts of cyberpunk description from the book. After more correspondence, Jon produced this brilliant sketch:


The illustration was excellent, with a gritty mix of cyberpunk and Giger. Unfortunately the action depicted occurs in a Southern California-style Craftsman bungalow in the novel. More emails, and more sketches followed:


As the sequence of action sketches in the bungalow progressed, we dealt with picking the right fonts for the title. I’ve been told that a good title for a trade paperback needs to be visible from 15 feet away or more, but I also wanted it to be punk and distressed. The more distressed the better.


I liked the font “Bullet in Your Head” and Jon distressed it further. The last illustration is essentially the front cover. I’m afraid I badgered Jon with way too many minor corrections along the way, but the results are wonderful. Without the lettering, Jon’s illustration is a stunning science fiction poster:


Now, let’s go back to the cyberpunk sketch midpoint in this whole process:


I realized I had the potential for a back cover in this sketch, and I asked Jon to play around with it. He came up with the following, first in gray tones and then in colors to match the front cover in tone and mood. One sign in the grimy cityscape spells out “Gibsons” in a nice touch:


I now had what I needed; sharply drawn, gorgeously illustrated, hauntingly themed front and back covers which I then turned over to my book designer. He put them together to produce this book cover which made superb use of Jon’s back cover design to create a wraparound jacket with an integrated spine:


But the use of Jon’s captivating illustrations didn’t stop there. I needed a two-sided, full color publicity postcard to distribute around the Bay Area, and Jon came through once again:


That’s how the cover of my novel 1% Free was constructed. The book’s insides were another matter entirely.

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